Feed aggregator

What Happened After Amazon Electrified Its Delivery Fleet?

Slashdot.org - Mon, 04/22/2024 - 02:44
Bloomberg looks at America's biggest operator of private electrical vehicle charging infrastructure: Amazon. "In a little more than two years, Amazon has installed more than 17,000 chargers at about 120 warehouses around the U.S." — and had Rivian build 13,500 custom electric delivery vans. Amazon has a long way to go. The Seattle-based company says its operations emitted about 71 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2022, up by almost 40% since Jeff Bezos's 2019 vow that his company would eventually stop contributing to the emissions warming the planet. Many of Amazon's emissions come from activities — air freight, ocean shipping, construction and electronics manufacturing, to name a few — that lack a clear, carbon-free alternative, today or any time soon. The company has not made much progress on decarbonization of long-haul trucking, whose emissions tend to be concentrated in industrial and outlying areas rather than the big cities that served as the backdrop for Amazon's electric delivery vehicle rollout... Another lesson Amazon learned is one the company isn't keen to talk about: Going green can be expensive, at least initially. Based on the type of chargers Amazon deploys — almost entirely midtier chargers called Level 2 in the industry — the hardware likely cost between $50 million and $90 million, according to Bloomberg estimates based on cost estimates supplied by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Factoring in costs beyond the plugs and related hardware — like digging through a parking lot to lay wires or set up electrical panels and cabinets — could double that sum. Amazon declined to comment on how much it spent on its EV charging push. In addition to the expense of the chargers, electric vehicle-fleet operators are typically on the hook for utility upgrades. When companies request the sort of increases to electrical capacity that Amazon has — the Maple Valley warehouse has three megawatts of power for its chargers — they tend to pay for them, making the utility whole for work done on behalf of a single customer. Amazon says it pays upgrade costs as determined by utilities, but that in some locations the upgrades fit within the standard service power companies will handle out of their own pocket. The article also includes this quote from Kellen Schefter, transportation director at the Edison Electric Institute trade group (which worked with Amazon on its electricity needs). "Amazon's scale matters. If Amazon can show that it meets their climate goals while also meeting their package-delivery goals, we can show this all actually works."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Fidelity Cash Management Account To Add New Core Money Market Fund Option (SPAXX @ ~5% APY)

MyMoneyBlog.com - Mon, 04/22/2024 - 00:37

A flexible alternative to a traditional bank account is getting better. The Fidelity Cash Management Account (CMA) is a brokerage account that also includes traditional bank features like ACH routing and account numbers, Billpay, mobile check deposit, physical checks, and ATM/debit cards.

Perhaps a lesser-known fact is that the standard “Fidelity Account” is a brokerage account that also offers ACH routing/account numbers, Billpay, mobile check deposit, checkwriting, and an ATM/debit card. One of the major additions to the CMA (and missing from the standard Fidelity Account) is that you get unlimited ATM fee rebates, worldwide:

Your account will automatically be reimbursed for all ATM fees charged by other institutions while using a Fidelity® Debit Card linked to your Fidelity Cash Management Account at any ATM displaying the Visa®, Plus®, or Star® logos. The reimbursement will be credited to the account the same day the ATM fee is debited from the account. Please note that there may be a foreign transaction fee of 1% that is not waived, which will be included in the amount charged to your account.

One of the major drawbacks to the CMA was that the only option for the core position was their “FDIC-insured Deposit Sweep”, currently paying 2.72% APY (as of 4/21/24). While better than the 0.01% many other brokers offer on cash sweeps, this yield is much lower than that of the money market fund options available in the standard Fidelity account. To get around this, many people used the auto-draft feature that lets you set the standard Fidelity brokerage account as the backup funding source, and then kept a minimal or zero balance inside the CMA.

Perhaps Fidelity noticed this activity as well, or perhaps they noticed certain 5% APY cash offerings from competitors, because in less than two months (June 15, 2024), the CMA is adding the Fidelity Government Money Market Fund (SPAXX) an a core position option. If you have a Fidelity Cash Management Account and look at the “Additional Information and Endnotes” section of your March 2024 statement, you should find the following notice. This has also been confirmed by an official Fidelity representative on the r/Fidelity Subreddit. From my statement:

Please note that on or around June 15, 2024, you’ll have the option to elect Fidelity(R) Government Money Market Fund (SPAXX) as your core sweep investment vehicle. You will not need to take any action if you wish to retain the Bank Sweep as your core position. For additional information on your core position options, including the current yields on the Bank Sweep and money market funds, please visit Fidelity.com/spend-save/fidelity-cash-management-account/overview and FundResearch.Fidelity.com/mutual-funds/summary/31617H102.

The 7-day yield of SPAXX is 4.95% as of 4/19/24, significantly higher than the 2.72% FDIC-insured sweep. Money market mutual funds are unable to offer FDIC insurance, but they are still heavily-regulated by the SEC to hold very conservative and liquid investments. “Government” money markets have even stricter requirements, and that is why they are used as cash sweep funds. I personally lose zero sleep over holding cash in a money market fund run by a reputable firm like Fidelity, Vanguard, or Schwab.

This is a positive development for those that use the Fidelity CMA, especially if your state doesn’t have income taxes on investment interest that create an incentive to hold money market funds with mostly interest from Treasury bonds. If you do live in such a state, you should know that in 2023 neither Fidelity Government Money Market Fund (SPAXX) nor Fidelity® Treasury Money Market Fund (FZFXX) met the minimum investment in U.S. government securities required to exempt the distribution from tax in California, Connecticut, and New York. (Despite having Treasury in the name, FZFXX only had about 20% in eligible Treasury interest.) These are the core positions available in the standard Fidelity Account.

As such, residents of California, Connecticut, and New York may want to hold the Fidelity Treasury Only Money Market Fund (FDLXX), as it did meet those requirements in 2023 with roughly 90% of interest eligible for exemption. This is not a core option so you do have to buy this mutual fund manually, although the CMA account will sell it automatically to meet any cash demands that come up later. But still, if you forget for a few days, the interest difference is much smaller between SPAXX and FDLXX.

I am definitely switching over my core position as soon as I can. June 15th, 2024 is a Saturday, so I’ll check on Friday the 14th and then Monday the 17th. You can switch over manually by logging into Fidelity.com, going to “Accounts & Trade”,” Account Positions”, and then “Cash”. You should then see the button to “Change Core Position”.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. This email may contain links through which we are compensated when you click on or are approved for offers.”

Fidelity Cash Management Account To Add New Core Money Market Fund Option (SPAXX @ ~5% APY) from My Money Blog.

Copyright © 2004-2022 MyMoneyBlog.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not re-syndicate without permission.

Categories: Finance

Ex-White House Cyber Policy Director: Microsoft is a National Security Risk

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 23:59
This week the Register spoke to former senior White House cyber policy director A.J. Grotto — who complained it was hard to get even slight concessions from Microsoft: "If you go back to the SolarWinds episode from a few years ago ... [Microsoft] was essentially up-selling logging capability to federal agencies" instead of making it the default, Grotto said. "As a result, it was really hard for agencies to identify their exposure to the SolarWinds breach." Grotto told us Microsoft had to be "dragged kicking and screaming" to provide logging capabilities to the government by default. [In the interview he calls it "an epic fight" which lasted 18 months."] [G]iven the fact the mega-corp banked around $20 billion in revenue from security services last year, the concession was minimal at best. That illustrates, Grotto said, that "they [Microsoft] just have a ton of leverage, and they're not afraid to use it." Add to that concerns over an Exchange Online intrusion by Chinese snoops, and another Microsoft security breach by Russian cyber operatives, both of which allowed spies to gain access to US government emails, and Grotto says it's fair to classify Microsoft and its products as a national security concern. He estimates that Microsoft makes 85% of U.S. government productivity software — and has an even greater share of their operating systems. "Microsoft in many ways has the government locked in, he says in the interview, "and so it's able to transfer a lot of these costs associated with the security breaches over to the federal government." And about five minutes in, he says, point-blank, that "It's perfectly fair" to consider Microsoft a national security threat, given its dominance "not just within the federal government, but really in sort of the boarder IT marketplace. I think it's fair to say, yeah, that a systemic compromise that affects Microsoft and its products do rise to the level of a national security risk." He'd like to see the government encourage more competition — to the point where public scrutiny prompts software customers to change their behavior, and creates a true market incentive for better performance...

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Startup is Building the World's Largest Ocean-Based Carbon Plant - and It's Scalable

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 21:09
An anonymous reader shared this report from CNN: On a slice of the ocean front in west Singapore, a startup is building a plant to turn carbon dioxide from air and seawater into the same material as seashells, in a process that will also produce "green" hydrogen — a much-hyped clean fuel. The cluster of low-slung buildings starting to take shape in Tuas will become the "world's largest" ocean-based carbon dioxide removal plant when completed later this year, according to Equatic, the startup behind it that was spun out of the University of California at Los Angeles. The idea is that the plant will pull water from the ocean, zap it with an electric current and run air through it to produce a series of chemical reactions to trap and store carbon dioxide as minerals, which can be put back in the sea or used on land... The $20 million facility will be fully operational by the end of the year and able to remove 3,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, said Edward Sanders, chief operating officer of Equatic, which has partnered with Singapore's National Water Agency to construct the plant. That amount is equivalent to taking roughly 870 average passenger cars off the road. The ambition is to scale up to 100,000 metric tons of CO2 removal a year by the end of 2026, and from there to millions of metric tons over the next few decades, Sanders told CNN. The plant can be replicated pretty much anywhere, he said, stacked up in modules "like lego blocks...." The upfront costs are high but the company says it plans to make money by selling carbon credits to polluters to offset their pollution, as well as selling the hydrogen produced during the process. Equatic has already signed a deal with Boeing to sell it 2,100 metric tons of hydrogen, which it plans to use to create green fuel, and to fund the removal of 62,000 metric tons of CO2. There's other projects around the world attempting ocean-based carbon renewal, CNN notes. "Other projects include sprinkling iron particles into the ocean to stimulate CO2-absorbing phytoplankton, sinking seaweed into the depths to lock up carbon and spraying particles into marine clouds to reflect away some of the sun's energy." But carbon-removal projects are controversial, criticized for being expensive, unproven at scale and a distraction from policies to cut fossil fuels. And when they involve the oceans — complex ecosystems already under huge strain from global warming — criticisms can get even louder. There are "big knowledge gaps" when it comes to ocean geoengineering generally, said Jean-Pierre Gatusso, an ocean scientist at the Sorbonne University in France. "I am very concerned with the fact that science lags behind the industry," he told CNN.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Just Sent Its Last Message Home

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 17:25
Two months ago the team behind NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter released a video reflecting on its historic explorations of Mars, flying 10.5 miles (17.0 kilometers) in 72 different flights over three years. It was the team's way of saying goodbye, according to NASA's video. And this week, LiveScience reports, Ingenuity answered back: On April 16, Ingenuity beamed back its final signal to Earth, which included the remaining data it had stored in its memory bank and information about its final flight. Ingenuity mission scientists gathered in a control room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California to celebrate and analyze the helicopter's final message, which was received via NASA's Deep Space Network, made up of ground stations located across the globe. In addition to the remaining data files, Ingenuity sent the team a goodbye message including the names of all the people who worked on the mission. This special message had been sent to Perseverance the day before and relayed to Ingenuity to send home. The helicopter, which still has power, will now spend the rest of its days collecting data from its final landing spot in Valinor Hills, named after a location in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" books. The chopper will wake up daily to test its equipment, collect a temperature reading and take a single photo of its surroundings. It will continue to do this until it loses power or fills up its remaining memory space, which could take 20 years. Such a long-term dataset could not only benefit future designs for Martian vehicles but also "provide a long-term perspective on Martian weather patterns and dust movement," researchers wrote in the statement. However, the data will be kept on board the helicopter and not beamed back to Earth, so it must be retrieved by future Martian vehicles or astronauts. "Whenever humanity revisits Valinor Hills — either with a rover, a new aircraft, or future astronauts — Ingenuity will be waiting with her last gift of data," Teddy Tzanetos, an Ingenuity scientist at JPL, said in the statement. Thursday NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory released another new video tracing the entire route of Ingenuity's expedition over the surface of Mars. "Ingenuity's success could pave the way for more extensive aerial exploration of Mars down the road," adds Spacae.com: Mission team members are already working on designs for larger, more capable rotorcraft that could collect a variety of science data on the Red Planet, for example. And Mars isn't the only drone target: In 2028, NASA plans to launch Dragonfly, a $3.3 billion mission to Saturn's huge moon Titan, which hosts lakes, seas and rivers of liquid hydrocarbons on its frigid surface. The 1,000-pound (450 kg) Dragonfly will hop from spot to spot on Titan, characterizing the moon's various environments and assessing its habitability.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

GPT-4 Can Exploit Real Vulnerabilities By Reading Security Advisories

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 16:05
Long-time Slashdot reader tippen shared this report from the Register: AI agents, which combine large language models with automation software, can successfully exploit real world security vulnerabilities by reading security advisories, academics have claimed. In a newly released paper, four University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) computer scientists — Richard Fang, Rohan Bindu, Akul Gupta, and Daniel Kang — report that OpenAI's GPT-4 large language model (LLM) can autonomously exploit vulnerabilities in real-world systems if given a CVE advisory describing the flaw. "To show this, we collected a dataset of 15 one-day vulnerabilities that include ones categorized as critical severity in the CVE description," the US-based authors explain in their paper. "When given the CVE description, GPT-4 is capable of exploiting 87 percent of these vulnerabilities compared to 0 percent for every other model we test (GPT-3.5, open-source LLMs) and open-source vulnerability scanners (ZAP and Metasploit)...." The researchers' work builds upon prior findings that LLMs can be used to automate attacks on websites in a sandboxed environment. GPT-4, said Daniel Kang, assistant professor at UIUC, in an email to The Register, "can actually autonomously carry out the steps to perform certain exploits that open-source vulnerability scanners cannot find (at the time of writing)." The researchers wrote that "Our vulnerabilities span website vulnerabilities, container vulnerabilities, and vulnerable Python packages. Over half are categorized as 'high' or 'critical' severity by the CVE description...." "Kang and his colleagues computed the cost to conduct a successful LLM agent attack and came up with a figure of $8.80 per exploit"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Is Rivos Building an RISC-V AI Chip?

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 15:05
Remember when Apple filed a lawsuit against chip startup Rivos (saying that in one year Rivos hired more than 40 former Apple employees to work on competing system-on-a-chip technology)? Apple settled that suit in February. And now Tuesday Rivos announced that it raised $250 million, according to Reuters, "in a funding round that will enable it to manufacture its first server chip geared for artificial intelligence," combining a CPU with an AI-accelerating component optimized for LLMs and data analytics. Nvidia gobbled up more than 80% market share of AI chips in 2023. But a host of startups and chip giants have started to launch competing products, such as Intel's Gaudi 3 and Meta's inference chip — both unveiled last week. Rivos is tight-lipped about the specifics of the product, but has disclosed that its plans include designing chips based on the RISC-V architecture, which is an open source alternative to the architectures made by Arm, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices.. [U]sing the open source alternative means Rivos does not have to pay a license fee to Arm. "RISC-V doesn't have a (large) software ecosystem, so I decided to form a company and then build software-defined hardware — just like what CUDA did with Nvidia," said Lip-Bu Tan, founding managing partner at Walden Catalyst, one of Rivos' investors. Meanwhile, there's a rumor that Allen Wu, former chief executive of Arm China, has founded a new company that will develop chips based on RISC-V. Tom's Hardware writes: Under the leadership of the controversial Allen Wu, Zhongzhi Chip is reportedly attracting a notable influx of talent, including numerous former employees of Arm, indicating the new company's serious ambitions in the chip sector... [T]he company's operational focus remains partially unclear, with speculation around whether it will primarily engage in its own R&D initiatives or represent Tenstorrent in China as its agent... which develops HPC CPUs and AI processors based on the RISC-V ISA... Based on the source report, Zhongzhi Chip is leveraging its connections and forming alliances with several other leading global RISC-V chip developers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lying to Investors? Co-Founder of Startup 'HeadSpin' Gets 18-Month Prison Sentence for Fraud

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 14:05
The co-founder of Silicon Valley-based software testing startup HeadSpin was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison and a $1 million fine, reports SFGate — for defrauding investors. Lachwani pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and a count of securities fraud in April 2023, after federal prosecutors accused him of, for years, lying to investors about HeadSpin's finances to raise more money. HeadSpin, founded in 2015, grew to a $1.1 billion valuation by 2020 with over $115 million in funding from investors including Google Ventures and Iconiq Capital... He had personally altered invoices, lied to the company accountant and sent slide decks with fraudulent information to investors, [according to the government's 2021 criminal complaint]... Breyer, per the New York Times, rejected Lachwani's lawyer's argument that because HeadSpin investors didn't end up losing money, he should receive a light sentence. The judge, who often oversees tech industry cases, reportedly said: "If you win, there are no serious consequences — that simply can't be the law." Still, the sentencing was far lighter than it could have been. The government's prosecuting attorneys had asked for a five-year prison term. The New York Times reported in December that HeadSpin's financial statements had "often arrived months late, if at all, investors said in legal declarations," while the company's financial department "consisted of one external accountant who worked mostly from home using QuickBooks." And the comnpany also had no human resources department or organizational chart... After Manish Lachwani founded the Silicon Valley software start-up HeadSpin in 2015, he inflated the company's revenue numbers by nearly fourfold and falsely claimed that firms including Apple and American Express were customers. He showed a profit where there were losses. He used HeadSpin's cash to make risky trades on tech stocks. And he created fake invoices to cover it all up. What was especially breathtaking was how easily Mr. Lachwani, now 48, pulled all that off... [HeadSpin] had no chief financial officer, had no human resources department and was never audited. Mr. Lachwani used that lack of oversight to paint a rosier picture of HeadSpin's growth. Even though its main investors knew the start-up's financials were not accurate, according to Mr. Lachwani's lawyers, they chose to invest anyway, eventually propelling HeadSpin to a $1.1 billion valuation in 2020. When the investors pushed Mr. Lachwani to add a chief financial officer and share more details about the company's finances, he simply brushed them off. These details emerged this month in filings in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after Mr. Lachwani had pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud in April... The absence of controls at HeadSpin is part of an increasingly noticeable pattern at Silicon Valley start-ups that have run into trouble. Over the past decade, investors in tech start-ups were so eager to back hot companies that many often overlooked reckless behavior and gave up key controls like board seats, all in the service of fast growth and disruption. Then when founders took the ethos of "fake it till you make it" too far, their investors were often unaware or helpless... Now, amid a start-up shakeout, more frauds have started coming to light. The founder of the college aid company Frank has been charged, the internet connectivity start-up Cloudbrink has been sued, and the social media app IRL has been investigated and sued. Last month, Mike Rothenberg, a Silicon Valley investor, was found guilty on 21 counts of fraud and money laundering. On Monday, Trevor Milton, founder of the electric vehicle company Nikola, was sentenced to four years in prison for lying about Nikola's technological capabilities. The Times points out that similarly, FTX only had a three-person board "with barely any influence over the company, tracked its finances on QuickBooks and used a small, little-known accounting firm." And that Theranos had no financial audits for six years.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Should Automakers Feel Threatened by China's Exports of Electric Cars?

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 12:34
The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S.-China rivalry "has a new flashpoint in the battle for technology supremacy: electric cars." "So far, the U.S. is losing." Last year, China became the world's foremost auto exporter, according to the China Passenger Car Assn., surpassing Japan with more than 5 million sales overseas. New energy vehicles accounted for about 25% of those exports, and more than half of those were created by Chinese brands, a shift from the traditional assembly role China has played for foreign automakers. "The big growth has happened in the last three years," said Stephen Dyer, head of the Asia automotive and industrials unit at AlixPartners, a consulting firm. "With Chinese automakers making inroads for most of the market share, that's a huge challenge for foreign automakers." China's rapid expansion domestically and abroad has added fuel to a series of clashes between the U.S. and China over trade and advanced technology, as competition intensifies between the two superpowers... One area in which Chinese automakers handily beat Western competitors is on price, thanks to government subsidies that supported the industry's initial rise as well as cheap access to critical minerals and components such as lithium-ion batteries, which account for about a third of the overall cost of production... In March, BYD cut the price of its cheapest EV model in China to less than $10,000. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average EV retail price is $55,343 in the U.S., compared with $48,247 across all vehicles... Though 27.5% tariffs have in effect locked Chinese EVs out of the U.S. market, the fear that the cheaper models could eventually undermine American automakers has started to spread. The Alliance of American Manufacturing warned in a February report that allowing Chinese EVs into the country would be an "extinction-level event" for the U.S. auto industry. The group also cited the risks of Chinese auto companies building facilities across the border in Mexico that could circumvent tariffs.... "When the global market is flooded by artificially cheap Chinese products, the viability of American and other foreign firms is put into question," [said America's Treasury Secretary in April]. The European Union has opened an investigation into government subsidies utilized by China's EV industry and whether such support violates international trade laws.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

LXQt 2.0 Released: Lightweight Desktop is Almost Wayland Compatible

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 11:34
This week saw the release of the LXQt 2.0 desktop environment, reports 9to5Linux. And besides bringing Qt 6 support (and a new default application menu), it also brings support for the Wayland display protocol to more components: The LXQt development is confident that the next major release, LXQt 2.1, will be fully Wayland compatible. The components that need to be ported to Wayland include ScreenGrab, LXQt Global Shortcuts, LXQt Panel's task-bar and keyboard indicator, some input settings, and settings of monitor, power button, and screen locker. "Wayland will be the main target for LXQt 2.1.0, as Qt6 was for LXQt 2.0.0" said the devs. "Most Wayland compositors have tools that can be used instead of them, such that an LXQt-Wayland session is already possible for advanced users." The lightweight Linux distro Lubuntu uses LXQtplace in place of GNOME — and Lubuntu 24.04 LTS will include an optional Wayland session alongside its default Xorg one, according to 9to5Linux: I said it before and I'll say it again, 2024 is the year of the Wayland desktop... The Lubuntu team plans to support the Xorg session until 2026 to aid users with older GPUs... However, the tables will be turned next year with the Lubuntu 24.10 release, which will be shipping with Wayland by default.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How a Renewable Energy-Powered Bitcoin Startup Helps Electrify Rural Africa

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 10:34
CNBC visited a small group of bitcoin miners who "set up shop at the site of an extinct volcano" near Kenya's Hell's Gate National Park. Their mine "consists of a single 500-kilowatt mobile container that, from the outside, looks like a small residential trailer." But what's more interesting is it's operated by a startup called Gridless. (According to its web site Gridless "designs, builds, and operates bitcoin mining sites alongside small-scale renewable energy producers in rural Africa where excess energy is not utilized...") Backed by Jack Dorsey's Block, Gridless electrifies its machines with a mix of solar power and the stranded, wasted energy from a nearby geothermal site. It's one of six mines run by the company in Kenya, Malawi and Zambia, powered by a mix of renewable inputs and working toward a broader mission of securing and decentralizing the bitcoin network... In early 2022, [the three Gridless co-founders] began brainstorming creative solutions for the divide between power generation and capacity, and the lack of access to electricity in Africa. They landed on the idea of bitcoin mining, which could potentially solve a big problem for renewable energy developers by taking their stranded power and spreading it to other parts of the continent. In Africa, 43% of the population, or roughly 600 million people, lack access to electricity.... Africa is home to an estimated 10 terawatts of solar capacity, 350 gigawatts of hydro and another 110 gigawatts of wind. Some of this renewable energy is being harnessed already, but a lot isn't because building the specialized infrastructure to capture it is expensive. Even with 60% of the best solar resources globally, Africa only has 1% of installed solar PV capacity. Enter bitcoin miners. Bitcoin gets a bad rap for the amount of energy it consumes, but it can also help unlock these trapped renewable sources of power. Miners are essentially energy buyers, and co-locating with renewables creates a financial incentive to bolster production. "As often happens, you'll have an overage of power during the day or even at night, and there's nobody to soak that power up," said Hersman. He said his company's 50-kilowatt mining container can "take up whatever is extra throughout the day...." Demand from bitcoin miners on these semi-stranded assets is making renewables in Africa economically viable. The power supplier benefits from selling energy that previously had been discarded, while the energy plants will sometimes lower costs for the customer. At one of the Gridless pilot sites in Kenya, the hydro plant dropped the price of power from 35 cents per kilowatt hour to 25 cents per kWh. The buildout of capacity is also electrifying households. Gridless says its sites have powered 1,200 houses in Zambia, 1,800 in Malawi and 5,000 in Kenya. The company's mines also have delivered power for containerized cold storage for local farmers, battery charging stations for electric motorcycles and public WiFi points.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

EU: Meta Cannot Rely On 'Pay Or Okay'

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 09:34
The EU's European Data Protection Board oversees its privacy-protecting GDPR policies. Earlier this week, TechCrunch reported that nearly two dozen civil society groups and nonprofits wrote the Board an open letter "urging it not to endorse a strategy used by Meta that they say is intended to bypass the EU's privacy protections for commercial gain." Meta's strategy is sometimes called "Pay or Okay," writes long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo : Meta offers users a choice: "consent" to tracking, or pay over €250/year to use its sites without invasive monetization of personal data. Meta prefers the phrase "subsccription for no ads," and told TechCrunch it makes them compliant with EU laws: A raft of complaints have been filed against Meta's implementation of the pay-or-consent tactic since it launched the "no ads" subscription offer last fall. Additionally, in a notable step last month, the European Union opened a formal investigation into Meta's tactic, seeking to find whether it breaches obligations that apply to Facebook and Instagram under the competition-focused Digital Markets Act. That probe remains ongoing. The letter to the Board called for "robust protections that prioritize data subjects' agency and control over their information." And Wednesday the board issued its first decision: "[I]n most cases, it will not be possible for [social media services] to comply with the requirements for valid consent, if they confront users only with a choice between consenting to processing of personal data for behavioural advertising purposes and paying a fee." The EDPB considers that offering only a paid alternative to services which involve the processing of personal data for behavioural advertising purposes should not be the default way forward for controllers. When developing alternatives, large online platforms should consider providing individuals with an 'equivalent alternative' that does not entail the payment of a fee. If controllers do opt to charge a fee for access to the 'equivalent alternative', they should give significant consideration to offering an additional alternative. This free alternative should be without behavioural advertising, e.g. with a form of advertising involving the processing of less or no personal data. EDPB Chair, Anu Talus added: "Controllers should take care at all times to avoid transforming the fundamental right to data protection into a feature that individuals have to pay to enjoy."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ziplines Drones Complete Their 1 Millionth Delivery, Flying Over 70 Million Miles

Slashdot.org - Sun, 04/21/2024 - 06:34
San Francisco-based drone-delivery service Zipline "said Friday that it hit its 1 millionth delivery to customers," reports CNBC, "and that it's eyeing restaurant partnerships in its next phase of growth." Zipline's clients already include more than 4,700 hospitals, according to the article, as well as major brands like Walmart. A Panera executive even told CNBC they hope to test Zipline deliveries in Seattle next year, expecting they won't cost the company any more than third-party delivery services: The company said its zero-emission drones have now flown more than 70 million autonomous commercial miles across four continents and delivered more than 10 million products. The milestone 1 millionth delivery carried two bags of IV fluid from a Zipline distribution center in Ghana to a local health facility... Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo Cliffton told CNBC that 70% of the company's deliveries have happened in the past two years and, in the future, the goal is to do 1 million deliveries a day... "We need to start using vehicles that are light, fast, autonomous and zero-emission," Cliffton said. "Delivering in this way is 10 times as fast, it's less expensive ... and relative to the traditional delivery apps that most restaurants will be working with, we triple the service radius, which means you actually [get] 10 times the number of customers who are reachable via instant delivery."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.